Israelis Mark Chanukah


No wreaths, no carols, no holiday gift sales.

In Israel, outside of Bethlehem and a few other Christian enclaves at least, Chanukah is the holiday this time of year. There is no sign of that other holiday.
Bakeries and groceries feature waist-high stacks of jelly doughnuts, Ashkenazi restaurants turn piles of potatoes into latkes, families light their chanukiot in glass-covered cases outside their front doors and children spin dreidels that substitute the Hebrew letter peh for a shin, as in “A great miracle happened here (po).”

An annual torch relay carries a flame from Modi’in, home of the Maccabees, to Jerusalem.

This year, Israel’s Chanukah celebration took a political turn, as a chanukiah was fashioned from spent Kassam rockets fired from Gaza, left.

Elsewhere in Israel and the West Bank, an Israeli soldier and a haredi Jew danced at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, above, and an Israeli general kindled the holiday lights, right, at the same holy site.

In Jerusalem Prime Minister Ehud Olmert took part in a candle-lighting with young cancer patients in his office.

One more highlight of Chanukah in Israel: you hear “chag sameach” instead of “ho, ho, ho.”